Light rail is up and running along Harrisburg on the city’s east side, but Metro’s construction continues to be a sore spot with area residents because it seems at every turn the work is taking longer than promised.
The latest delays come from sluggish work to move utilities and excavate for a planned overpass of freight railroad tracks along Harrisburg near Hughes. The overpass is needed to extend Green Line rail service from its current terminus at Altic to its future endpoint at the Magnolia Park Transit Center.
“There is no way to sugarcoat this. We are behind schedule and we are working to get back on schedule,” said Roberto Trevino, Metro’s executive vice president for planning, engineering and construction.
Construction can catch up, officials said, meaning the overpass remains on track to open in May 2016 as Metro and McCarthy Building Companies – the project’s general contractor – estimated in January. Much of the work occurs in the center of the new street, meaning it doesn’t cut off businesses but does make accessing their driveways trickier.
One of the first steps in the construction – moving utilities – got off to a slow start, Trevino said.
Moving overhead electrical utilities lagged at first, then crews started finding telecommunications and gas lines that weren’t listed on plans and city documents.
That stalls work as gas or phone company crews have to come out and assess the lines and see if they are functioning.
A potentially bigger pitfall comes from prior industrial uses along Harrisburg, Trevino said, specifically underground tanks used to store fuels that were not listed on many site plans and which proved more problematic than Metro thought.
“We are doing some proactive measures to make up as much time as we can,” Trevino said.
To accelerate construction, additional crews have descended on the job site, and McCarthy has plans to move from doing work for 10 hours six days a week, to seven days a week.
If it’s not one thing it’s another with this construction. I don’t think there’s much that could have been done differently based on what the story says, but boy will everyone be glad when this is over. I just hope they can still make the May deadline.
In tangential news, the Wednesday Metro board meeting was where the long-discussed idea of allowing ads on trains and buses was supposed to come up, but I haven’t seen any news item or press release indicating that it did. Anyone know what happened?